Critical Thinking: Is the Newspaper Industry Not Doing Enough to Fight For Control on How Their Content is Distributed on Platforms Like Facebook?


“Is the newspaper industry not doing enough to fight for control on how their content is distributed on platforms like Facebook?”


Rachel Fradette_r2_webRachel Fradette, 19, Michigan State University (East Lansing, Mich.)

Fradette is a journalism student currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree. She has worked for The State News, the student newspaper, since spring 2015.


The overwhelming power of social media has brought all things to yield before it. With that power, comes loss in other directions. Print—the first casualty—struggles to remain relevant in today’s predominantly digital world. Online has become dominant in everything people do.

News is now provided on so many different platforms in order to adapt to the audiences. People are looking for easy access for everything they do on their phones and computers. Publishers provide content exactly for social media and app form.

The platforms for journalist’s content are changing to how people read it on their phones. If publishers have offers to distribute on apps and advertise on that platform, then a journalist’s work will be presented in that form which could ultimately change their entire story.

Newspapers appear to be adapting to the times by putting stories through the social media filter. The main reason being (the reason for everything) to make money.

Publishers have pretty much given up all of their control to social media, a lot like everything else has. The true essence of the job and the hard work put into reporting is now a clickbait-style story only to be viewed through Snapchat. Everyone who admires the original, true platform for news—print—have either had to become warriors on its behalf or retreated because the world is moving on and leaving it in the dust.

Change has consumed the newspaper industry and its not putting up a fight. The industry has given up their reigns to the social media channel. A journalist’s work is not being fought for if the industry is not fighting for content rights on these platforms.

Social media platforms aid stories and reporting in ways that many would have never thought possible, but when that lens begins to distort the work of journalist’s and publishers adapt for profit, that’s when we are failing ourselves.

Fight for original content not made for social media, but made for a reader. There will always be news, so our industry’s relevance should not be dwindled down to an appearance that does not represent it.


Crystal Miller_r2_web Crystal Miller, 38, publisher, Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune

Miller has worked at the Albert Lea Tribune, owned by Boone Newspapers Inc., since 2002.


Most newspapers are using Facebook and Twitter, but all can make efforts for improvement. Other social media platforms take a backseat because there is no loyalty with their users. Perhaps a young journalist within the organization is best fit to test new and coming social media platforms.

If used correctly, newspapers can gain readership from social media. I continue to see growth in our digital footprint because of Facebook. The key to growing is to give it attention, like we always have done with the print audience.

It’s difficult to justify the time to invest on improving. We must measure audience, even though we really want to measure dollars. Newspapers may not see direct revenue from social media and they may be tempted to not share valuable content for free. However, there is value in having an audience and this audience all leads back to the relevancy of a newspaper as a whole.

A Facebook post needs likes, shares and comments before it flows in more feeds. The challenge is how to engage our audience on Facebook. Each newspaper needs to find its own algorithm based on individual communities and audience needs. What stories get shared the most? What stories get the most “likes?”

We want to teach a Facebook audience the importance of our local politics, while keeping them entertained with the light-hearted items they enjoy on social media. Our important news won’t go away, but perhaps we write a story that we know our Facebook audience will enjoy more than our print audience. Having minimum standards, setting goals, modifying headlines for digital and obtaining reader input are all ways for us to find improvement on social media.

Without trying, we see improvement on our Facebook traffic because of two big changes Facebook has made. Facebook has more advertising and suggested posts than ever before. This is forcing people to look to their local newspaper for the truth as they always have. Also, Facebook added reactions other than “like” to individual posts. That’s important to newspapers because we often share information that is not good news, and people feel guilty if it publicly looks like they “like” something that is negative. Now they can choose to give a crime post a “sad” or an “angry” reaction. These reactions build momentum on the story and fit the algorithm Facebook wants in order to show the feed to others.

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2 thoughts on “Critical Thinking: Is the Newspaper Industry Not Doing Enough to Fight For Control on How Their Content is Distributed on Platforms Like Facebook?

  • August 19, 2016 at 4:55 am

    The issue has been, and always will be, how to monetize social media, and the web for that matter. I don’t think anyone has really cracked the hardshelled nut of making enough money through their website, let along through social media, to pay for a substantial portion of their operational costs. Bread and butter advertisers in print haven’t jumped to electronic means. Revenues from electronic means haven’t yet replaced revenues lost on the print side, thus still making it difficult for media to continue to staff their newsrooms with motivated, and rewarded, professionals. I can, honestly, recommend any young person thinking of a career in newspaper actually do so. If they do, they need to understand they will be underpaid and undervalued, and will need a spouse in a much better paying field to make ends meet.

  • August 19, 2016 at 8:05 am

    I am a long-time editor and publisher of a weekly newspaper and also a monthly tabloid publication. Our sports publication is very popular, especially among teenagers and college students because the emphasis is on them. Our weekly publication continues to grow at a steady rate, despite the fact we have a daily right next door. (They look at us as their major competition… hahahahahaha.)
    Relevancy is a state of mind. In journalism, relevant means being truthful, honest, and knowing how to write. The latter is a lost craft. Today’s “journalists’ are actually public relations activists… they are not newspaper people.


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